Online shopping scams target record number of holiday shoppers buying gifts on the internet

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are two holiday hacking schemes to beware of as you're shopping for gifts online.

Consumer experts estimate online shopping is up at least 30% this year, and will continue to grow through the New Year. That means there are more opportunities for you to become a victim of a holiday hack, and 2020 may be the perfect storm for holiday scams.

"You got the pandemic going on. You've got this work from home, then you've also got this huge gain in online shopping," said security expert John Gunn with OneSpan. "And when you combine these three together, the risk levels for consumers are off the charts."

First, don't always trust emails and texts which you think are coming from your favorite retailers.

"Saying, 'Hey this item is half off limited quantity, contact them directly,' don't necessarily click on the link, you don't have to trust that link, you can verify those," warned Gunn.

He said there are scammers actually faking the legitimate retailers look, images and emails and sending them to unsuspecting shoppers. In reality, they are phishing attempts to get your personal and account information.

To avoid them, hover over the email name and see if the address looks suspiciously long or unusual and ask yourself if the offer too good to be true.

Second, be careful where you store all of your account information like credit card numbers and shipping addresses. Cyber criminals are targeting store accounts for the shopping season.

"The fewer people you store it with the better," said Gunn. "If you don't shop that frequently, don't leave it there because if you, over a year or two, you know, go to five or 10 different sites. Now if they're ever hacked, all of your personal information your credit card information is there for the taking. You can't really trust the security of so many merchants, especially some of them aren't very big and may not have the investment in security that is needed to protect your information."

However, you should be safe storing your information with a large retailer which you use regularly.

Also, when shopping online use a credit card and not a debit card, which takes your cash directly out of your checking account.
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